It's one thing to lose yourself in nature. It's an entirely different thing to get lost in nature. So even though getting out on a hike is a perfect excuse to disconnect from your digital world, there are a few apps that can actually enhance your outdoor adventures. Here are our six favorite apps for making your hikes even more incredible.
1. MapMyHike: If you're training for a trip and monitoring your progress over time, this is the perfect app for you. MapMyHike lets you track and map every hike you take, complete with distance, elevation, pace, duration, and even calorie burn. This app comes from MapMyFitness, a group that also offers MapMyWalk (which we use when training for trips off the trail). We also appreciate the 'Routes' feature to find nearby places to hike and save our favorite trails.
2. HikingProject: Brought to us by REI, HikingProject is a crowd-sourced database for 35,000 trails all over the world. Not only does it offer detailed data and maps for trails, it also includes trail reviews, directions and photos for tons of user-submitted trails. This means you can find hidden gems and connect to the larger network of hikers in your area. One cool feature is on-trail navigation, and we're particularly fans of the ability to log in to the app and check off all the hikes we've completed while adding other hikes to our bucket list.
3. Picture This: It happens on every single hike: you see a tree or flower or leaf that peaks your interest, but you don't know what it is. Enter Picture This, the app that allows laywomen to identify thousands of plants, flowers and trees simply by snapping a photo. You'll get a name as well as information about the plant right in front of you. Go ahead, become a naturalist.
4. PeakFinder AR: If you're a woman who is lucky enough to hike regularly in a mountainous region, you NEED this app. For all the rest of us, make sure to download it for the next time you're heading into the mountains. PeakFinder AR shows the names of all the mountains and peaks within a 100-mile radius so you're not pulling out a map and guessing at the name of every peak. As an added bonus, this app works offline so even when you're deep in the wilderness you have access to answers.
5. Motion X GPS: This is a great app for trail exploration and will record your time, speed, distance, and route. It's best feature is that you can download and store maps for offline use. That's critical if you are going walking or hiking in an area that lacks cell phone service or WiFi (like most wilderness areas do). This app costs $1.99, but similar apps cost ten times this for the same service!
6. Guthook Guides: Last but certainly not least, this collection of detailed maps offers GPS location, elevation details, thousands of miles of trail routes, and over 10,000 waypoint details for prominent hikes in the US and around the world. There are options for everything from weekend walks to major thru-hikes, but Guthook Guides caught our attention on the Appalachian Trail. Instead of carrying a guidebook or tearing out individual pages to help guide you, this app offers highly detailed information that is downloadable for well-known trails like the AT, PCT, JMT, and more.
So go on, get outside. And even if you're bringing your phone, remember to disconnect from technology and lose yourself in nature.